Basic obedience training is one of the basics of pet care. Dogs which have been given even the most elementary of obedience lessons make much better pets for several good reasons.
Dogs are, by nature a pack animal or an animal that prefers to live in a social group and for a responsibly owned dog the dog’s human family is the social group or pack. The process of obedience training gently reinforces in the dog the fact the dog’s owner is “Top Dog” and the dog is a lesser member of the family “pack”. In addition, obedience training is a gentle means of giving a pup or dog the guidance it needs to prevent the development of unacceptable behaviour. In a pack of wild dogs, it is quite natural for a puppy to be disciplined by the pack leader. The puppy learns to respect the leader, and by observing and copying its actions, the puppy learns to become an integrated member of the dog pack. In a human family situation, if a pup is allowed to grow up with no such guidance, it can develop unacceptable behavioural patterns, as it has never been told the difference between right and wrong by its owners. Such pups grown into unruly and unmanageable animals and are usually very unpopular. Their owners usually blame the dog for its bad behaviour when the owners themselves are at fault for not giving the pup the guidance it needed. The easiest way to give a dog such guidance is to obedience train the dog. Obedience training is an excellent way of gently putting a dog in its place. It is a constructive, progressive process which is good fun for both dog and owner. Another real advantage of obedience training is that the dog is taught to behave in the presence of other dogs and other humans that the dog has never met before. This practice is one of the best means of socialising a dog to its environment. It does wonders to improve the self-confidence of nervous dogs and the demeanour of aggressive dogs.
Obedience Training Using the “Bad Dog-Good Dog” Technique
The key to making a dog do something that you desire is to make the dog enjoy doing it. Thus the key to quick obedience training is to “ham it up” and use gushing, liberal praise whenever the dog does anything correct and short, sharp discipline if the dog does something incorrect during the training session. Any discipline used should be followed by praise as soon as the dog stops the incorrect action and performs the desired command response instead. In addition, correction for inappropriate actions must come immediately the action is performed, not several seconds later. The temperament of your dog will dictate the type of guidance and correction needed. Boisterous dogs need a firm approach while timid dogs respond better to encouragement. However, it is important to distinguish between confusion and disobedience and react to the first with reassurance and encouragement and to the second with firm discipline. While doing this you should develop totally different tones in your voice for praise and for chastisement. To make all this easier for your dog try to develop a series of verbal commands which are used with a series of hand signals. Always be consistent by using the same verbal commands and associated hand signals together for the same action that you require the dog to perform. For instance do not ask a dog to lay down by saying “DOWN” one moment and “LAY” the next. If you use exact repetition and a consistent, non-varying approach to each situation, the dog will begin to understand the actions that evoke a pleasant response and those that evoke an unpleasant response. To avoid confusion, the dog must get the same response to any specific reoccurring situation.
The only equipment that is necessary for correct dog training is a leather or cloth lead not less than 1.2 metres long, a check chain collar and a large enough area to train in. Correct installation of the collar is imperative. With the dog on your left side, the chain of the collar should travel in a counter-clockwise direction around the dog’s neck. When installed in such a manner the collar will hang loosely unless the lead is tugged when the collar will tighten briefly to pull the dog into position and will then release. The correct use of a check chain does no harm to the dog. It is important that your dog is always worked on a loose lead so that the lead can be used for correction when it is needed. This promotes a comfortable situation when the dog is following your lead but an uncomfortable situation if you and your dog are drifting apart. In the initial learning phase of training, work with your dog for at least 10 minutes each day, or twice a day if possible. Constantly revise and repeat procedures many times over to reinforce in your dog the actions you require. There are several ways of having your dog obedience trained. You can do it yourself at home by using a good book, of which there are several on the market. Alternatively, you can attend the obedience classes provided by many local obedience dog clubs. Basic obedience training is the key to having a well behaved pooch. Once achieved, the dog is more controllable, more dependable and happier in itself as it has a better idea what is expected of it. The effort is small but the benefits last a life-time.
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